Today, we are all inundated with work in our career and personal lives. And, thrown into the mix are the constant distractions and interruptions that we have to dodge. With so much on our minds, it’s no wonder that we are more tired and exhausted than ever. As business owners and career driven people, we need a system to help us safeguard our mental clarity which also keeps us from burning out or having an anxiety attack.
Whenever we feel anxiety or stress, we need to recognise it as a warning sign that there could be trouble on the horizon. They key is to link these warning signs to a ready-to-go strategy that we can use to manage the issue.
Case 1 — The newbie
Charlotte is a university student who is struggling under the pressure of her increasing course load. She’s not managing her time well and this means that she has to skip lectures so that she can be on top of her assignments. However, this adds to her stress and anxiety and she's concerned that she’s heading toward burnout or failure in her course.
Case 2 – The leader
Suzy is a business owner who is having a hard time growing her business. She’s facing pressure from her partners, given that the company will soon be under financial strain. There are so many things on her to-do list and Suzy is having anxiety just thinking about them, not to mention the impossible deadlines that she’s set for herself — worst of all, she doesn’t know where to start.
Charlotte and Suzie have a few warning signs that things are not going well. It’s imperative that they take action to find a solution and manage their stress, otherwise, their productivity and mental health will start to spiral downwards.
Identify the warning signs
Identify what triggers your warning signs
Negative beliefs about yourself
Responding to warning signs
Ask colleagues for tips around managing workload
Have a system to manage dates and deadlines
Leverage technology to automate tasks and processes
Link the warning signs to possible success strategies
Identify your support network of friends, family, colleagues, and professionals so you can reach out to them when times get tough. It’s valuable to talk with people you trust about your warning signs and how you feel about your tasks at hand.
The upside down work day
Here’s a strategy that can work for those of us who are inundated with work and life. All the requests, problems, bills and tasks that we have to complete can all pile up and snowball into something that can knock us off our feet – here's how to manage all that stress while staying productive.
Don’t check your emails first thing in the morning
The key here is to plan your most important task for the morning the night before. Write it on a sticky note and put it on your computer screen. Only have 3 important tasks at the very most, and place them in order of importance. Your morning is only going to be focused on getting the top priority task done by lunchtime. And, you’re not allowed to check your emails or social media until you’ve completed this task.
This strategy brings back the essential laser focus that we need to do great work, plus it takes off all the stress and pressure that can lead to the warning signs that end up causing unnecessary stress and anxiety.
Here’s what will change:
You’ll always be accomplishing the most important thing first, every day
You’ll be saving time by batching your email management
You’ll be more mentally sharp and focused
You’ll feel a sense of self-assurance and self-confidence from knocking off tasks systematically
The smart hustle
We want to hustle in the smartest way possible while getting the most results. We need a strategy to navigate the constant interruptions and distractions, and a system to prioritise our most important tasks so we can give them our best effort.
Unfortunately, humans didn’t evolve to sit in a corporate office and manage projects, and we need to realise that our work environment isn’t physiologically natural. However, we have to make-do in the best way we can.
So, have a strategy and a plan, block out some time in the morning where you are only doing 1 task, and only check your emails at lunchtime when you’ve finished your most important mission for the day.
Here’s to more productivity and less stress!